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Women are generally exempt from time-bound mitzvot (Kiddushin 29a). I have heard two reasons for women being exempt from time-bound mitzvot and both seem problematic, so either there are additional explanations or I am not properly understanding these two:

  1. Women have to spend time on maintaining the household and raising the children, so they do not have time for time-bound mitzvot. But if that's the reason, the rabbis could have said "those with child-care duties (etc) are exempt". As it stands, women with no children don't have the reason but are still excused, and men who have child-care duties are still obligated. (Granted that the rabbis of the talmud were probably not considering this latter case.) It seems odd to me that a stay-at-home dad is obligated while his teenage daughter is exempt.

  2. Women are on a higher spiritual plane and do not need as many mitzvot. It seems surprising to me that we could make that kind of statement about all women (and the converse about all men). Just looking around at the people I've met, there are wise men who seem not to need extra help and women who struggle and might need the help of more mitzvot.

If one of those is the reason, what am I failing to understand? If neither of those is the reason, what is? Why are women, categorically, exempt from these mitzvot?

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The technical reason is a Gemara in Kiddushin that says that since women are not obligated in Tfilin (which is mentioned in a verse near the verse that speaks about Torah learning, where it says (Vshinantem levanecha, you shall teach your son(and not your daughter))), which they are free from because , they are not obligated in any commandment similar to Tfillin. Since Tfillin is a positive commandment which is time-bound (one can't wear them on Shabbos/Yom Tov), so too women aren't obligated in all positive commandments which time-bound.

However, even after this technical answer (women are free from positive time-bound mitzvos) women could still ask: "Why should I lose out the benefits of Mitzvos? Mitzvos connect me to Hashem?" This is where the answers that you mentioned come in. Since women are not obligated in these mitzvos, it means that the connection one could accomplish with these mitzvos is accomplished on its own. (For a similar idea, when we aren't allowed to blow Shofar on Shabbos, Shabbos accomplishes what the shofar does, but on a higher level.)

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    Technically, the first is a Limud, not a REASON. Second, what does it ever mean "that the connection ... is accomplished on its own"? What's your source for saying that? If women have less Mitzvos does it mean they are more perfect or less, like Gentiles? – Al Berko Aug 31 '18 at 8:57
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With regards to the first reason, I think you've fallen victim to explanations that have been cleaned up for political correctness. The Abudraham gives the following reason why women are exempt from time-bound positive commandments:

‫והטעם שנפטרו הנשים מהמצות עשה שהזמן‬ ‫גרמא לפי שהאשה משועבדת לבעלה לעשות צרכיו.‬ ‫ואם היחה מחוייבת במצות עשה שהזמן גרמא אפשר‬ ‫שבשעת עשיית המצוה יצוה אותה הבעל לעשות מצותו‬ ‫ואם תעשה מצות הבורא ותניח מצותו אוי לה מבעלה‬ ‫ואם תעשה מצותו ותניח מצות הבורא אוי לה מיוצרה‬ ‫לפיכך פטרה הבורא ממצותיו כדי להיות לה שלום עם‬ ‫בעלה . וגדולה מזו מצינו שהשם הגדול הנכתב‬ ‫בקדושה ובטהרה נמחה על המיס כדי להטיל שלום‬ ‫בין היש לאשתו‬

Women are exempt from time-bound positive commandments because a women is subjugated(?) to her husband to fulfill his needs.

If she was obligated in a time-bound positive commandment it is possible that while she is doing the commandment her husband will command her to do something. If she puts aside her husbands command to do G-d's command, Woe unto her from her husband.

If she puts aside G-d's command to fulfill her husbands command, Woe to her from her creator.

Therefore G-d exempted her from time-bound positive commandments, so she can have peace with her husband.

[Don't be astonished by this, since] We see G-d is even willing to have his name erased in order to have peace between a man and his wife (in the case of a Sotah).

The only question that remains is why are unmarried women exempt from time-bound positive commandment? I would have to answer Lo Plug, G-d didn't make this distinction, but made a blanket exemption.

[The Abudraham then brings 7 time-bound positive commandment that women are obligated to do and explains why those are the exceptions]

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    1) I don't know how you know why her version differs from yours. 2) Changing the focus from the children to the husband doesn't answer her underlying question. Your claim of Lo Plug does, and that is not sourced. – Double AA Apr 22 '13 at 0:44
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    @DoubleAA: From the question "Women have to spend time on maintaining the household and raising the children, so they do not have time for time-bound mitzvot." From the Abudraham "Women are exempt from time-bound positive commandments because a women is subjugated(?) to her husband to fulfill his needs...If she was obilgated in a time-bound positive commandment it is possible that while she is doing the commandment her husband will command her to do something..." - this difference is what is glossed over when explaining it these days, which is why the question existed. – Menachem Apr 22 '13 at 2:07
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    @DoubleAA: It is more than just changing the focus from children to husband. It is saying that the women is Subjugated to the husband, which can lead to issues. ---- This left me with a question, "what about unmarried women?". I offered an answer of Lo Plug because I couldn't find it discussed anywhere (although I'm sure it is). – Menachem Apr 22 '13 at 2:10
  • דברי רב ודברי תלמיד - דברי מי שומעים? It's not your fault, but Abudraham's Tirutz is good for a Shabbos Drasha, but not really a reason. What's the connection with Time, why not other Mitzvot? Why all women, not only married ones? Like in honoring parents - a married woman is exempted but when she's divorced the obligation returns. – Al Berko Aug 31 '18 at 9:06
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I do not know the source of this answer, but it is the answer that I have grown up with and makes sense to me.

The answer actually combines the 2 answers you list in your question, and explains them a bit more.

Women are not obligated for positive time bound mitzvot because of their monthly cycle. Since women have a monthly cycle, they are already given an internal way to mark the time and seasons thus accomplishing what many of the positive time bound mitzvot are intended to accomplish for men. (They are also given ways to make this cycle more dedicated to Hashem)

This can also give greater meaning to the positive time bound mitzvot that women are supposed to do, such as Rosh Chodesh, or the more national oriented mitzvot such as Simcha during Sukkot, or Matza on Pesach.

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  • I've heard R' Akiva Tatz quote this in shiurim. I think the real meaning is not that they are exempt because they have the cycle, but rather, the presence of the cycle hints that they have an internal connection to time, which results in the cycle. Hence, they are free from external obligations, whose goal is to make us connected to time. – gt6989b Apr 22 '13 at 13:12
  • Women don't have daily or weekly cycles. "they are already given an internal way to mark the time and seasons " - SEASONS, really? Where are the sources? – Al Berko Aug 31 '18 at 9:09
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    @AlBerko What is the confusion? 4 periods would be a season if they were regular. – avi Sep 2 '18 at 6:08
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The exemption is a Khok, a decree of the Posuk. Neither the Chumash nor the Gemara give any other reason.

Amongst the Rishonim, the Abudraham gives the reasons of family duties.

It is not correct to say that women are on a higher plane than men. There is no Torah source that says this. Generally we have mitzvos because of our holiness (See Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim IV #49).

See http://belovedcompanions.blogspot.com/

The Magen Avraham says it's because their yetzer tov is smaller and if commanded they wouldn't do those mitzvos.

See http://belovedcompanions.blogspot.com/2013/05/magen-avraham.html

Zi'es Ra'anan, Yalkut Shimoni, Shmuel 1:1

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    Thank you for this information, and welcome to Mi Yodeya. Did you mean for the first link to be more specific (like the second)? – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '14 at 14:18
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    There is no Torah source that says this. You must be incredibly well read. – mevaqesh Jul 3 '15 at 13:20
  • @mevaqesh I think he meant, as stated in the first paragraph, that there is no pasuq or derashah thereof in the Gemara making this claim in unequivocal terms. – Lee Aug 24 '16 at 17:40
  • @Lee I doubt that that was the intent of his sweeping statement. Even if you are right, the Gemara assumes that women are exempt. it never says why. most commentators if not all seem to assume that it is a sevara not a chok and try to figure out what the sevara is. The possibility that it is because of women's "holiness" is raised in a couple of different versions. Certainly, the silence of the Talmud does nothing to indicate to the contrary. | Incidentally the first paragraph falsely implies that the Torah indicates that women are exempt in the first place. – mevaqesh Aug 24 '16 at 19:32
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The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likutei Sichos 31 page 97-98) says, based on the Mechilta on Shemos 19:3, that women have a stronger relationship to serving Hashem through faith (whereas men are more philosophical) therefore their relationship to Torah is at the more general level. Thus women were given the general principles of Torah, and the men the specific details (according to the Mechilta - unlike the Medrash Rabbah).

This connection to the general relationship with Hashem and Torah is the reason that 1) Jewishness follows the mother, but specific tribal relationships follow the father, 2) Women are exempt from time bound positive commandments, because time bound commandments are specifically connected with the details of time.

He then connects this with the reason of the Arizal - that the male and female are two parts of a single larger soul and it is enough that the male half do those Mitzvos - by saying that the reason the male half specifically gets those Mitzvos is its connection to the detailed aspects of time.

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  • If so, the Gentiles have a more general level still. your #1 is a dispute, not a norm in Judaism, and #2 is completely out of nowhere and unsourced, the last part paragraph - what exactly does Arizal say? Why there's no difference between married and unmarried? That's toooo general to say. – Al Berko Sep 1 '18 at 20:06
  • @alberko you are welcome to click the link in the answer and check the underlying sources if you have further questions about what exaclty they say. – Yishai Sep 2 '18 at 1:47
  • Sorry for a harsh language, I'm into Chassidus and Kabbalah also, but I hate when people take a quantum leap and jump from Kabbalah to Halachah. This is probably "לא תעלה במעלות על מזבחי" :). You jumped toooo far. I fail to see any connection to exempting women from Mitzvot. – Al Berko Sep 2 '18 at 15:06
  • @alberko, I'm just summarizing the source I'm quoting. Nothing in my answer is original to me. – Yishai Sep 2 '18 at 15:56
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The Avudraham translation of "משועבת" as "subjugated" meaning "dominated by" is where the problem lays.

The appropriate translation would be "subject to", meaning "under the authority of" her husband, to meet his needs.

Since this new requirement was placed upon women as a tikkun, meaning a means of correcting some deficiency that occurred in connection with the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it must be viewed in the context of the original intention for the formation of the first woman.

As the Torah states explicitly, the first woman was created to be "עזר כנגדו", "a helper in complement to him", meaning according to what he requires in order to be a complete creation.

In other words, husband and wife together form a complete, exclusive and perfect creation which leads to an increase in life. The concept of "good" in the Torah is that which leads to life.

In the case of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the wife accepted the influence of an outside party, the serpent, and brought this influence into her relationship with her husband. She forgot or lost sight of the purpose of her existence. Thus, the nature of the tikkun.

And as the Avudraham says, G-d, being consistent with that tikkun emphasizes for a wife that even He is not to come between husband and wife, to divide them. When there is a possible conflict between the needs of her husband to help make him complete and what she believes G-d requires of her, G-d sets the first priority as being the exclusive and holy relationship of husband and wife.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Yaacov. I'm not quite sure how this answers the question; could you edit in a clarification? – Scimonster Oct 27 '14 at 18:05
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    @Scimonster It seems the answer is a variation of option one of the OP, with the caveat that it is for women and not for anyone with childcare needs because it is specifically related to women to forgo serving Hashem in order to assist their husband. The teenage daughter bit is still left hanging. – Y     e     z Oct 28 '14 at 2:52
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Rambam in Pirush HaMishnayot (Kiddushin 1,7) brings an interesting idea that contradicts the very idea of a possible connection, based on R' Hanina's statement (in the Gemorah) that "אין למדים מן הכללות" - "we can't learn from generalizations":

"...ומצות עשה שהזמן גרמא ... וכבר ידעת שהעיקר אצלנו אין למדין מן הכללות, ומה שאמר כל אמנם רוצה לומר הרוב ואמנם מה שהנשים מחוייבות ממצות עשה ומה שאינן מחוייבות ממה שמגיע אליהן אינו תלוי בכלל ואמנם נמסרים על פה, והם דברים שבאו בקבלה. הלא ידעת שאכילת מצה בלילי פסחים ושמחה במועדים והקהל ותפלה מקרא מגילה ונר חנוכה ונר שבת וקידוש היום אלו כולם מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא וכל אחד מהם מחוייבות על הנשים כמו שהם מחוייבות לאנשים וכמו כן מצות פריה ורביה ות"ת ופדיון הבן כל אחד מהם מצות עשה שלא הזמן גרמא ואע"פ כן אין הנשים חייבות בהן ואמנם נמסרים על פה כמו שזכרנו.

Can somebody please find a translation?

To paraphrase Rambam: there's no such general rule, rather every single Mitzvah is learned from the tradition on its own, whether women are obligated or not. What the Tannah [that wrote the Mishnah] wanted is to say that "the majority of time-related Mitzvot", but there's no general rule at all.

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R. Samson Raphael Hirsch gives an explanation similar to the second one you mention; however, he discusses it at length which you might find helpful in addressing some of the issues you had with it. This is from his commentary to Leviticus Chapter 32:

Thus, women's exemption from other מצוות עשה שהזמן גרמא cannot be attributed to a lower standing – as though the Torah considers women unworthy of fulfilling those mitzvos. Rather, in our view, the likely reason the Torah does not obligate women in these mitzvos is that women do not need them. For the whole purpose of מצוות עשה שהזמן גרמא is to represent – through symbolic actions – certain truths, ideas, principles, and resolutions, and to bring these values afresh to our minds, from time to time, so that we take them to heart and put them into practice. The Torah takes it for granted that woman has great fervor and faithful enthusiasm for her calling, and that the temptations awaiting her in the sphere of her calling pose but little danger to her. Hence, it was not necessary to impose on her all the mitzvos that are imposed on man. For man requires repeated exhortation to remain true to his calling, and it is necessary to repeatedly caution him against any weakness in the fulfillment of his mission. Witness מילה, which is the founding mitzvah of the Jewish people: God did not find it necessary to secure His covenant by giving women some other permanent symbol instead of מילה. Witness also the Lawgiving (Shemos 19:3): God addressed the women first, building on their fathfulness and devotion. This reality was preserved in the national consciousness and was transmitted from generation to generation. Whenever we were lost and cast down, בשכר נשים צדקניות Israel was found worthy of redemption (see Sotah 11b); it was the women who preserved and nurtured the seed of revival. (Feldheim translation)

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As mentioned in the other answer, women are not obligated in time bound positive mitsvot and also mila, pidion haben and peot.

It is not a matter of higher or lower spiritual level, but different roles. A neshama is divided in two bodies: with one you fulfill the mitsva of mila, with the other the mitsva of nida: it is not a matter of better or worse.

The same way you can't say your left arm is better/worse than your right arm. With one arm you put your tefilin, the other should accept it.

Similar thought in tsedaka: there are two sides of it, the giver and the recipient.

As mentioned in the comment to the question, why women are obligated on kidush is a big question: in a first look one may say that she is not since it is a time bound mitsva. If you really want, I may try to look where I saw this (I believe hazon ovadia). And btw, learning is considered time bound.

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    Isn't the mitzva of nida incumbent on both men ("v'el isha...") and women? – msh210 Oct 7 '11 at 13:48
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    @msh: for men it's just that negative mitzvah; for women there's the positive mitzvah of going to the mikvah (plus the one - I'd assume it's miderabanan - of performing the bedikos). – Alex Oct 7 '11 at 16:08
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    The positive mitzvot (if they exist) of a niddah and zavah going to the mikva are balanced by the positive mitzvot of a baal keri and zav going to the mikva. – Double AA Jan 17 '13 at 23:54
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    Learning is time bound??? והגית בו יומם ולילה!!! – Double AA Apr 21 '13 at 18:06
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Rav Moshe Feinstein zt'l says in many places that holiness is a pre-condition for being commanded in mitzvos (not the reverse). You'll note that a Cohen, who has more mitzvos, is more holy.

The mitzvah of You shall be holy, which is followed by a recitation of several of the fundamental mitzvos, is not of the same type as the mitzvos that follow it. This mitzvah means that every Jew should realize that he is sanctified with the holiness of the Jew, and it is only because of that holiness that we were given the Torah and obligated to do the mitzvos. As I have often written, mitzvos cannot be fulfilled properly unless the doer has the holiness of the Jew. The Kohanim, who have additional mitzvos, must have the particular holiness of Kohanim. This is why we make a blessing before mitzvos and say, "Who has sanctified us with His mitzvos"; and Kohanim, before doing mitzvos that are limited to Kohanim, say, "Who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon." The expression "Who has sanctified us with His mitzvos" should not be misunderstood as meaning that mitzvos are the source of the sanctity. It is self-understood that the sanctity the blessing refers to is the underlying sanctity of every Jew -- that which enables us to fulfill the mitzvos.

Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt'l, Darash Moshe, Volume II, p. 154, Vayikra, Kedoshim

So what about the positive time bound mitzvos? Women have the holiness but are exempt in order to take care of the family. Every reference in the Torah to holiness mentions the men and women. They are in that sense equal in holiness. He implies here that the use of the word patur is because women have a connection to those mitzvos but are patur. To put it in my words, nobody says a man is patur from niddah. Nobody says a Yisroel is patur from birchos cohanim. You are only patur from a mitzvah that you might otherwise be commanded in. Reb Moshe:

Regarding the distinguished (Jewish) ladies who are fighting along with women of the nations of the world in their (social) movement. These (Jewish) ladies are observant of Torah and want to bring their fight to matters of relevance to Jewish law. Some (of these ladies) pray with tallaisim and so on. They seek my view in this matter and how the rabbi of the shul should handle the matter.

Firstly, you must know that it is an essential matter of faith in our Torah that the written and oral Torah was given by The Holy One Himself at Mount Sinai through Moshe Rabbanu, o"h. It is impossible to change even one point (of the Torah) whether to be more strict or to be more lenient. But we were commanded that when there is a time to establish precautionary measures, it is incumbent on the Sanhedrin and the sages of the Torah to do so, by prohibiting certain things. They also may obligate others. They (the sages) must make it very clear that these are rabbinical obligations. Since our dispersion to foreign lands, we lack the power (to make such enactments). However, the wise men of every region (have the power) to make enactments only for their region and only for a short time. In view of this, the exemption of women from positive time bound commandments is a (decree) of the Torah. Also, the Rabbis never obligated women (in these commandments) since there is no reason to do so. Indeed, there is a reason to exempt women from these commandments specifically for the reasons that the Torah exempts them. And besides the reasons for the Torah which are unknown to regular people and to the great scholars, and we are required to believe that there are great reasons of Hashem who gave the Torah, (besides this), there are (non-ultimate) reasons revealed to everyone. (In the matter of the exemption of women from positive time bound mitzvahs) the average woman is not wealthy and has responsibility to raise sons and daughters. This (task) is most important work for Hashem and His Torah and so Hashem made each species so that the woman should raise the offspring. Humans are no exception. The nature of women enables them to raise children. Along those lines, it (the burden) was made easier on the women by not requiring them to learn Torah and to perform positive time bound mitzvahs. (However) even if the order of the world were to change and all women were wealthy all the time and it were possible to give over the children to men and women (to raise them as is done) in our country, the Torah's law cannot change and neither can that of the Rabbis. It is useless to fight this. Even with the agreement of the entire world, there is no power to change (the Torah) one iota. The women who stubbornly wage war to make such changes are committing heresy. The Rambam, in chapter three, law number eight, of the Laws on Repentance, says the following: "Three (people) are called heretics: The one who denies even one word spoken by Moshe Rabbainu, the one who denies the explanation of the oral Torah, and the one who switches one word (of Torah) for another. These are heretics and their judgment shall be a forfeiture of their place in the next world.” According to the words of the Rambam, to say that the Creator switches around commandments and all the more so that men can switch around the commandments -- is to say that the Torah is not eternal. And the whole reason (it is called heresy) is that they are rebelling against many verses which teach us of the eternity of the Torah, and so writes the Kesef Mishnah. Women are permitted to perform (certain) commandments for which they are not obligated and receive divine reward for such performance. And also according to the view of Tosfos, (women) are permitted to make a blessing (on such commandments) as is our custom. (It is our custom also for women to be permitted) to fulfill the commandments of shofar and luluv and to make blessings (on these). Therefore, concerning tzittzit, a woman who wants can dress in a garment not designed for men, as long as this garment has four corners to it, and attach tzittzit to fulfill this commandment. Concerning the wearing of tfellin, Tosfos writes in Eruvin 96, divray hamaskil: myachal, that (this commandment) should not be performed (by women). Tfellin requires tremendous care to keep the body in (halachic) cleanliness and to focus one's attention. For this reason even men who are obligated in tfellin limit their wearing (of tfellin) from all day to during morning prayers. The Rema holds similarly (Choshen Mishpat, 98:3). Targum Yonason, on the verse: "There should not be a man's clothing on a woman" (holds) that (women should not wear) tzitzit or tfellin since they are garments of men. Tosfos does not believe there to be such a Targum Yonason. This (performance of non-obligatory commandments by a woman) applies only if her soul yearns to perform the commandment even though she is not commanded. (It is another matter) if her intention is to protest against the Holy One and His Torah. Such a posture is not congruent with the performance of a commandment. Indeed, it is a forbidden act and an act of apostasy. Since (such a woman) is trying to amend Torah law. You should know that all of this (the exemption of women from positive time bound commandments) is not because women are on a lower level of holiness than are men. While obligation in commandments results strictly from one's having holiness, men and women, in that sense, are equal in holiness. All the verses in the Torah regarding holiness refer also to women. (This applies from) the beginning (with) the arrangement to receive the Torah (at Sinai). "You'll be to me a treasure and you'll be to me a holy nation." Exodus 19:6. (The subject of this verse is all of the nation of Israel) as it says "house of Jacob" in referring to the women and "tell to the house of Israel" in referring to the men. Exodus 19:3. (The references to men and women of all verses regarding holiness extends also after Sinai with) "You'll be for me a people of holiness," parshas Mishpatim, "you'll be holy," parshas Shimini, "holy you'll be and you'll be holy," parshas Kedoshim, and "and a nation of holy people you are to Hashem" parshas Re’eh. Women also (as well as men) are referred to in every mention of holiness. Therefore women also include in their blessings the words "you have sanctified us with your commandments." (Women do this) even when performing commandments for which they are not obligated. (The exclusion of women from positive time bound commandments) is a leniency made by Hashem for his own reasons and not because of any diminution (regarding the women) Heaven forbid. We explained this earlier. And concerning the obligations between husband and wife, a husband is obligated to treat his wife with respect and a wife is obligated to treat her husband with respect. (Furthermore) many women were prophetesses and subject to the same laws concerning prophets as were the men (prophets). In many matters, women were praised more than the men by the (written) Torah and by the Rabbis. There is no denigration in their (women's) respect in their exemption from the learning of Torah and positive time-bound commandments. There is no reason to have any gripes. The distinguished rabbi (of the congregation in question) should explain this every time and be strong and firm in his knowledge that this is all a matter of the Torah and he should correct these women. And after all this if (these women) still stand in their incorrect and stubborn view, (the rabbi) should not allow a single change in the holy customs of Israel. I end with a blessing for true peace and a good writing and sealing for a good year for the distinguished rabbi and to all that is his, to the whole holy congregation, the men, the women, and the children.

Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim IV #49

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  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya! Is this your translation of these pieces, or did you find these translations somewhere? – DonielF Feb 23 at 14:48
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In his commentary to Exodus 20:10 R. Samuel David Luzzato writes as follows:

כולל בלא ספק האיש והאשה שהרי בקטנים הזכיר בנך ובתך ובעבדים עבדך ואמתך א"כ האשה שוה לאיש והיא ברשות עצמה כמו בעלה שאם היתה האשה משועבדת לבעלה כשפחה היה צריך להזהיר את האיש על שביתתה כדרך שהזהירו על שביתת בניו ועבדיו מפני שאינם ברשות עצמם וכן בכל מצות שבתורה הכתוב מדבר בל' זכר וגם האשה בכלל ורז"ל פטרו אותה ממצות עשה שהזמן גרמא, נראה שבימיהם נשתנה מצב הנשים והכבידו הגברים את עולם עליהן

This commandment undoubtedly encompasses both husband and wide, for with respect to minors it mentions "your son" and "your daughter," and with respect to servants, "your manservant" and "your maidservant." Thus the woman is equal to the man, and a wife is a free agent like her husband; if the wife were subordinate to her husband like a maidservant, it would have been necessary to caution the man as to the woman's [entitlement to] rest, just as he was cautioned as to his children's and servants' rest, for they are not free agents. Similarly, with all the mitsvot of the Torah, the text speaks in masculine gender, but women, too, are included. However, the Sages exempted women from the positive mitsvot that are time-bound (she-ha-zeman gerama); apparently, in their times the status of women had changed, and men had been laying a heavier yoke upon them. (Klein translation, my emphasis)

It sounds like he is saying that really women were not exempt from time-bound mitzvot, but the Sages, reacting to societal conditions, (re)interpreted the Torah in such a way as to exempt them.

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    It is because of explanations like this that R. Luzzatoi is not a mainstream authority. I saw an article that explains this at length, I'll have to find it. – Mordechai Dec 3 '19 at 21:36
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As we know, men are commanded to perform mitzvos asei she'haz'man grama, time-bound mitzvos. Women, on the other hand, are not required to perform these mitzvos. What is the reason for this difference? The answer is that women have other important obligations to tend to, which exempt her from these commandments. A woman must know that she is a briah shel chessed, she has been created for the purpose of performing chessed. Being a wife and mother is a very significant role, and it requires her to be selfless and totally dedicated to performing chessed! It takes a woman's entire effort to succeed in being an efficient mother and wife. Investing her abilities in raising children is very time consuming but is a tremendous zechus for her!"

Rabbi Avigdor Miller Speaks, p. 272

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  • What about women who are not wives or mothers? – Monica Cellio Feb 23 at 18:29
  • The Pardes Yosef applies the concept of lo plug to explain why the single woman is exempt. IOW, the halacha speaks to the typical case. Historically, women married young and therefore spent 4 years single and 70 years married. And even when single they spent their days training to be wives and mothers. On a kabbalistic level, the Lub. Rebbe notes in the name of the Ari z'l that single women get the benefit of the mitzvos when done by their future husbands. – Yisrael Jun 5 at 5:41

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